You can plan your Sonoma Valley day trip or weekend getaway in a jiffy using the resources below.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like Sonoma?
- Get a Preview: Take a look at our Sonoma Valley Pictures
- Sonoma is less crowded than Napa Valley, with the wineries more spread out, friendlier and on the whole, less pretentious. The Sonoma countryside lacks the well-defined "valley" feel you'll get in the county next door, but it doesn't want for beautiful scenery. Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Merlot grapes grow well in the Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Chardonnays are often more complex than those grown in Napa.
- In Sonoma Valley, you can taste more than just wine. Olive oil, artisan cheese and local produce are sold in many spots and they make great souvenirs.
Best Time to Go to SonomaSonoma weather is nice most of the year, but in summer it can be more crowded and hot. One of the most popular times to visit is fall, during the harvest, but that's when wine makers are busiest and have the least time for their visitors.
Don't MissIf you've only got a day, spend it in downtown Sonoma. It's just right for a rambling browse, with shops and restaurants surrounding a shady town square full of benches ready to rest on. Almost every building has a historical plaque out front and most are dated before 1900. You'll find a few wine tasting spots here, so you won't miss a thing.
5 More Great Things to Do in Sonoma
- Wine-Tasting: Over 100 wineries surround Sonoma and a few have tasting rooms right in town, or use our guide to Sonoma Valley's best wineries to plan your visits.
- Foodie Fun: A few great stops include B.R. Cohn for olive oils and Oak Hill Farm's Red Barn Store at 15101 Sonoma Highway (April through Christmas). Farmers Markets are held in downtown Sonoma on Tuesday evenings, April through October and Friday mornings year round. From Farm to Table offers some special food and dining activities and Ramekins Culinary School brings in some of the area's best chefs to teach you their specialties.
- Soak Up the History: Sonoma is one of the state's oldest towns, with a Spanish mission, historic plaza, nineteenth-century barracks, important adobe homes and dozens of historical landmark buildings. Many of them are clustered around the town square.
- Get Moving: Down the road a bit south of town, Vintage Aircraft Company offers some fun flights in historic planes. Go a little further south to the Raceway and you can learn how to drive - fast - at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School.
- Train Town: Its miniature trains, just big enough for and adult and child to sit side by side are a must for anyone traveling with children.
Annual Events You Should Know About
- Sonoma International Film Festival, April
- Sonoma Jazz, Memorial Day1 weekend
- Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Labor Day2 weekend - features winemaker lunches and dinners, TASTE of Sonoma and a wine auction
- Sonoma Grape Camp, September - follow the grapes from vineyard to bottle
- Olive Festival, December through February
Tips for Visiting Sonoma
- If you're going to visit some wineries, these tips will help you make the most of it.
Best BitesYou'll find plenty of good places to eat in and around Sonoma. The Girl and the Fig, Cafe La Haye and Harvest Moon Cafe are among the highest-rated. You can reserve with them and other places through Open Table.
Where to StayGet some great tips for finding a place to stay in Sonoma.
Getting To SonomaDriving? Sonoma is 45 miles from San Francisco, 92 miles from San Jose, 68 from Sacramento and 200 miles from Reno, Nevada.
If you're driving to Sonoma from or through San Francisco or Oakland, you can download a free podcast from the Sonoma Mission Inn that will make your drive more interesting.
Flying? Horizon Air flies directly to Santa Rosa (22 miles away from Sonoma) from many cities in the western U.S. Otherwise, the nearest commercial airports are San Francisco (SFO) and Oakland (OAK). Check airfares.
1 Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May.
2 Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September.